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18.06.2020 Poem

Of Rice, Oil, &“Tinapa”…

By Theodore Dzeble
Of Rice, Oil, &“Tinapa”…
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Understandably, therefore, anyone who must win or lose an election in this country ─ whether parliamentary or presidential ─ must begin his national orientation by mastering the art of manipulation and corruption. Unless you corrupt the electorate by the clandestine provision of illegitimate gifts by day and by night, you stand no chance of losing the election, let alone winning it!”

Sorry if you are not familiar with “tinapa,”for it was the localized name for canned fish in my childhood. Readers below 20 or 30 years ─ the latter-day lactogen generation ─ may be unfamiliar with this venacularization of canned fish, for it was handed down to my generation by our fathers, who also received it from their own fathers. Unfortunately, my generation has been unsuccessful in passing it on to the next generation. That’s why I needed to demystify it in a whole paragraph for the appreciation of my younger readers.

The combination of rice, oil and “tinapa” is a delicate prescription for household happiness, particularly during this austere Covid19 season. It’s not every time that volunteer donors and charitable aspiring politicians come knocking on one’s door, by day and by night, by their own volition, bearing gifts of all sizes and weights, color and taste for noble party delegates.

In addition to the gifts they bring, they also make a thousand and one other promises of future provisions and support for children’s school fees, payment of hospital bills in case of a health emergency, a funeral donation in case of an accidental demise in the family, payment of water and light bills for security against disconnections, and sometimes even support donations for advanced holidays with one or two concubines at a secret location anywhere within the motherland.      

And please, do not provoke my ire by asking me to mention some of the very fantastic gifts and laudable accoutrements by which the politicians try to manipulate the conscience of delegates. But they include bicycles, tricycles, motorbikes, flat screen television sets, gari, “koobi,” “alata samina” “shitor”, mobile phones, sugar, tin tomatoes, beans, fish, cassava dough, drinks, and  cash ranging from 200 to 400 cedis. So if for instance there are a 1000 delegates in a constituency and a politician targets 600 of them, that adds up to 240 000 by my rudimentary arithmetic. And boy, that is some financial tsunami!

Understandably therefore, anyone who must win or lose an election in this country ─ whether parliamentary or presidential ─ must begin his national orientation by mastering the art of manipulation and corruption. Unless you corrupt the electorate by the clandestine provision of illegitimate gifts by day and by night, you stand no chance of losing the election, let alone winning it!

Whether we officially christen the election as the Lord’s or launch it by prayers of aggravated fastings in the cathedral makes no difference. These are empty communication slogans craftily designed by the politicians to appeal to the people who give themselves up for corruption at the hands of the cunning politicians.

And so have we all become a nation of rice, oil and “tinapa” citizens, astute and professional in our daily deviations, yet violent in our public affectations and exaggerated religiosity. Our presidents and popes can only look the other way while their people corrupt and plunder the citizens because they themselves are eminent beneficiaries of the social and political flatulence that is drowning a righteous nation in the abyss of illegitimacy and corruption.

How can the battle be the Lord’s, when he neither pays nor accepts bribes? And if truly the battle is the Lord’s, why don’t we condemn the reckless abandon with which our own people corrupt the system? And how can we ever win the battle against corruption (please no such battle exists, never) when we license corrupt behavior in elections and hope to eliminate same when we win the elections and become custodians and managers of the people’s decreasing wealth?  

Isn’t this the mother of all deceptions and hallucinations? One big pretentious clan, selfish, greedy people, that is who we are ─ when we profess to love God so unapologetically yet promote bribery and corruption on our streets and homes in broad daylight!

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